Defense rests, Trump will not take witness stand in hush money trial

The defense only called on one witness.
Trump Hush Money
Posted at 8:05 AM, May 21, 2024

Former President Donald Trump's defense team rested its case on Tuesday in his criminal trial over hush money payments.

Despite the former president saying he would take the witness stand, Trump will not testify, his lawyers said.

The jury will not be required to return until May 28. At that point, they will hear the closing statements from prosecutors and Trump's defense.

"I think the best thing we can do is adjourn now until next Tuesday. At that time, you will hear the summations of the attorneys. On the next day, you'll hear my jury charge, and I hope you'll begin deliberations on Wednesday," Judge Juan Merchan told jurors.

Merchan will meet with prosecutors and the defense Tuesday afternoon to go over jury instructions.

Before the defense rested its case, Robert Costello, a former adviser to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, returned to the stand.

Costello has said publicly for months that he believes that he can show that Cohen has been lying.

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After Costello took the stand on Monday, Judge Juan Merchan admonished him. What irked Merchan wasn't what he said in the courtroom but how he said it and his temperament.

Merchan was so frustrated he cleared the entire courtroom and kicked out reporters, which left few individuals in the court.

"If you try to stare me down one more time, I will remove you from the stand," Merchan told Costello, according to a transcript released by the court.

On Monday, the Trump legal defense once again attacked Cohen's credibility. During questioning, attorney Todd Blanche got Cohen to admit that he stole from Trump's business. The admission came during a line of questioning about payment to a polling firm that would show Trump gaining support.

Trump is accused of falsifying business records to hide reimbursements to Cohen for paying Daniels, Playboy model Karen McDougal, and a former doorman at Trump Tower. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleges Trump did it in an attempt to conceal an "illegal scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election" by trying to cover up extramarital affairs.

Trump has described the nature of the payments to Cohen as "a legal expense."